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Sullivan County Highway Department has new tools to clear slippery roads

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Whenever snow hits the ground, road conditions can become a problem. Luckily, the Sullivan County Highway Department has some new tools at its disposal to keep you safe while driving through slippery conditions.

"I get more nervous about the other drivers than I do about driving on [ice]," Martha Johnson, a Sullivan County resident, says.

Driving on untreated roads is an experience the Sullivan County Highway Department hopes to make as rare as possible. Its fleet of 40 plows are called snow-fighters, and they've been using regular salt to melt ice for years. However, Highway Commissioner Jim Belgeri says salt doesn't work when a road's surface temperature drops into the lower 20s. However, the department's new chemically coated salt, or pre-wetted salt, does.

"It works down to the low single digits," Belgeri says. "It creates the same delamination of the snow and ice from the pavement."

Another new feature this year is the Piney Flats salt house. It's so new in fact, it hasn't been used yet.

"It's going to be very beneficial to that area," Belgeri says. He would go on to explain that snow-fighters working in that area don't have to come all the way back to Blountville to reload any more, and the additional facility could cut out a 45 minute round-trip.

The department's last new tool is GPS tracking devices in the trucks.

"With these monitors, we can actually see where people are," Belgeri says. "If there's a particular street and the plow is two streets over for instance in a subdivision, we're able to say,'10 minutes they should be there'."

People who live in the county say they're excited about the possibility of better road clearing.

"It's good when you can feel safe about leaving your house and getting on the streets," Johnson says.

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